Environmental news feed

  • Hartree Partners to channel $2.8 billion toward new carbon credits
    on July 28, 2021

    - Global energy and commodities trading house Hartree Partners has pledged to channel more than $2.8 billion of private sector investments toward creating new carbon credits.- Companies can purchase carbon credits from sources that are protecting or restoring natural carbon sinks to offset their carbon emissions. However, as more companies move toward voluntary carbon markets, the demand for carbon credits is expected to outpace the supply.- Hartree Partners will be working with Wildlife Works, an established conservation organization, to create 20 million voluntary carbon credits a year, beginning in 2023 — representing a 40% increase in the availability of verified, avoided-deforestation projects.- The voluntary carbon market has been the subject of much criticism and debate, with advocates arguing that it is a means to reduce emissions through safeguarding nature. Critics say the market is hard to regulate and may allow companies to avoid the equally crucial work of reducing emissions.

  • Indonesia reimposes ban on destructive seine and trawl nets in its waters
    on July 28, 2021

    - Indonesia has banned again the use of destructive seine and trawl nets, locally known as cantrang, to protect the ocean ecosystem.- These devices are highly effective in sweeping up large amounts of fish, but nearly half half of what they net are bycatch or discards.- The cantrang ban was initially imposed in 2015, then subsequently eased in the face of criticism from fishers, before being revoked last year by a minister who has since been jailed on unrelated corruption charges.- The fisheries sector in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic country, plays an important role in supporting national and global food security.

  • Cerrado desertification: Savanna could collapse within 30 years, says study
    on July 28, 2021

    - Deforestation is amplifying climate change effects in the Brazilian Cerrado savanna biome, making it much hotter and drier. Researchers observed monthly increases of 2.24°C (4.03°F) in average maximum temperatures between 1961 and 2019. If this trend persists, temperature could be 6°C (10.8°F) higher in 2050 than in 1961.- Cerrado air moisture is decreasing partly due to the removal of trees, which bring water up from as much as 15 meters (nearly 50 feet) underground to carry on photosynthesis during the dry season. Replacement of native vegetation by crops also reduces the absorption of sunlight by wild plants and leads to an increase in temperature.- Even dew, the only source of water for smaller plants and many insects during the dry season, is being reduced due to deforestation and deepening drought. The demise of pollinators that rely on dew may prompt a cascading effect adversely impacting the biome’s biodiversity, which could collapse in the next 30 years.- The Cerrado is often called Brazil’s “water tank,” as it is the source of eight of 12 Brazilian river basins. Its looming biome collapse and deepening drought mean less water for rural and urban populations and for agriculture. Low flows in rivers will also affect hydropower, likely causing energy shortages.

  • Palm oil grower looks to make amends for past deforestation in Indonesia
    on July 28, 2021

    - A major palm oil grower in Indonesia plans to rehabilitate 38,000 hectares (94,000 acres) in Borneo and New Guinea to make up for its past deforestation and peatland clearing.- The recovery by KPN Plantation will be achieved through peat rewetting, reforestation, and assisting local communities to secure land tenure and access rights.- Environmentalists have lauded the plan, but noted that challenges remain in the monitoring and implementation of the plan.

  • For species in the red, IUCN’s new Green Status signals conservation wins
    on July 28, 2021

    - The IUCN will soon be launching the IUCN Green Status of Species, a new assessment tool that will illuminate the ecological functionality of species within their ranges, and also show how much a species has recovered due to conservation efforts.- The new framework will classify species into nine recovery categories, and measure the impact of past and present conservation efforts and recovery potential in the short term and long term.- A team of more than 200 international researchers presented preliminary Green Status assessments for 181 species in a new paper.- The IUCN Green Status for Species will officially launch online at the start of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September.

  • Trafficking for traditional medicine threatens the Philippine porcupine
    on July 28, 2021

    - Endemic to the islands of Palawan province, Philippine porcupines are threatened by habitat loss and, increasingly, by black-market demand for bezoars: stony aggregations of undigested plant material that accumulate in their digestive tracts.- Bezoars are believed to have curative properties for diseases ranging from epilepsy to cancer, and experts say rising demand for bezoars threatens to make porcupines “the next pangolins.”- The Philippine porcupine, whose population size is unknown, also faces growing threats as its lowland forest habitat is cleared for agriculture and development projects.

  • New index measuring rainforest vulnerability to sound alarm on tipping points
    on July 28, 2021

    - The new Tropical Forest Vulnerability Index (TFVI) will use satellite data to assess the impact of growing threats such as land clearance and rising temperatures on forests.- Backed by the National Geographic Society and Swiss watchmaker Rolex, TFVI aims to identify forests most at risk, to be prioritized for conservation efforts.- Researchers combined 40 years of satellite measurements and forest observations covering tropical forests worldwide to come up with the standardized monitoring system.- In recent years, multiple stressors have pushed forests to a tipping point, causing them to gradually lose their ecological functions, including their capacity to store carbon and recycle water, the study says.

  • There’s still room to save Asia’s hoolock gibbons, study says, but only just
    on July 27, 2021

    - Hoolock gibbon habitat has declined in the past few decades, but enough suitable patches exist today to guarantee the long-term survival of the genus if properly conserved.- Particular populations are at greater risk of local extinction and should be translocated, including scattered western hoolock populations in Bangladesh.- Researchers have also identified strongholds where a relatively high number of hoolock gibbons have been estimated, and which are currently highly threatened, to be prioritized for conservation.- Hoolock gibbons are particularly vulnerable to forest fragmentation and degradation due to certain behavioral traits, which makes protecting large patches of habitat much more effective than conserving many small and fragmented areas.

  • Camera trap cameo for Buru Island babirusa last seen 26 years ago
    on July 27, 2021

    - Camera traps have snapped the babirusa “deer-pig,” a type of tusked wild swine, on an island in Indonesia where they hadn’t been observed in more than a quarter of a century.- Locals on Buru Island had previously reported seeing the animal there, but the new images are the first official confirmation of babirusa there since 1995.- Officials are designing a conservation program for the Maluku or hairy babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa) found on Buru and trying to determine its presence on two other islands.- According to local lore, a babirusa will appear to guide a person lost in the forest to safety.

  • For an Indigenous group in Sumatra, a forest regained is being lost once more
    on July 27, 2021

    - The Indigenous community of Pandumaan-Sipituhuta in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province have started replanting frankincense trees in their customary forest after a company had cleared the land to make way for a pulpwood plantation.- The community has been in conflict with the company, PT Toba Pulp Lestari, since 2009, which has led to numerous clashes and criminal charges brought by the company against community members.- The government finally granted recognition of the Indigenous group’s rights to its ancestral forest at the end of 2020.- But the size of the customary forest had been slashed by more than half after the government earmarked some of the forest to be converted into large-scale agricultural plantations under the national food estate program.

  • Canadian miner looms large as Nauru expedites key deep-sea mining rules
    on July 27, 2021

    - Nauru, which sponsors a company to mine the seabed for minerals in ungoverned waters, has triggered a rule with the International Seabed Authority that requires it to allow seabed mining in two years, regardless of whether regulations have been written.- Advocates have expressed concerns that the main beneficiary of the move is a Canadian company that is in the process of publicly listing its stock in the US, which is not governed by ISA regulations.- Seabed mining has never been attempted before, and scientists worry that a shortened deadline to design regulations may sideline environmental protection in the world’s largest inhabited zone.- Among the outstanding questions over regulations is the issue of royalties: how will sponsoring states and other countries benefit from the “common heritage of mankind”?

  • Eight of the 10 nations most at risk from climate and toxic pollution in Africa: study
    on July 27, 2021

    - Of 176 nations considered, the top 10 found to be most vulnerable to both climate change impacts and environmental pollution are in Africa and South Asia, with the Democratic Republic of Congo being the worst off, according to a new study.- Toxic pollution in the environment, be it dirty air, contaminated water or unhealthy soils, and climatic shifts resulting in warmer temperatures, extreme weather or land degradation, can all endanger human health.- The study shows that tackling both kinds of risk together might be a good strategy for some countries like Singapore, Rwanda, China and India.- It also highlighted the unequal toll of environmental destruction among nations: the 60 most vulnerable countries are home to two-thirds of the planet’s population.

  • Huge wildlife corridor in Belize sees progress, boosting hope for jaguars and more (commentary)
    on July 26, 2021

    - Conservationists are working hard to create the Maya Forest Corridor, connecting the massive Belize Maya Forest in the country’s northwest with the Maya Mountains Massif network of protected areas in southern Belize.- Frequented by tapirs, opossums, armadillos, agoutis, jaguars, and other big cat species, the network of reserves and corridors could prove to be critical conservation infrastructure for the region.- A biologist who was just there shares news of some major land purchases and plans for wildlife underpasses for the Coastal Road, which is now in development along the corridor’s route.- The views expressed are of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

  • Nearly 1 million km2 of intact forests menaced by extractives, study finds
    on July 26, 2021

    - A new report shows that 975,000 km2 (376,500 mi2) of virgin forest, about the size of Egypt, is threatened by mining and oil and gas extraction.- About 11% of the planet’s intact forests lie within mining concessions and 8% inside oil and gas concessions.- Their loss spells trouble for efforts to save endangered wildlife, tackle climate change and preserve Indigenous communities inhabiting these undisturbed lands.- The overlap between concessions and intact forests was the greatest in Central Africa, especially in the Congo Basin, which has seen a surge in extractive activity in recent years.

  • Record heat waves are a taste of what’s to come under a changing climate
    on July 26, 2021

    - A new study suggests that record-shattering heat events will become more frequent and more intense as the world continues to warm due to human-induced climate change.- In a high-emissions scenario, the study suggests extreme heat waves will be two to seven times more probable between 2021 and 2050, and 21 times more probable between 2051 and 2080.- If emissions can be curbed, however, and global temperatures do not exceed 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, this would help reduce extreme heat events.

  • Indonesia’s Gorontalo road runs into forest, swerves environmental checks
    on July 26, 2021

    - Designated a national strategic project, the Gorontalo Outer Ring Road will connect the main air and seaports in Sulawesi Island’s Gorontalo province.- Divided into three segments, the 45-kilometer (28-mile) road cuts through steep karst features, agricultural fields, informal settlements, and areas of protected forest.- The project has already been plagued by graft linked to land acquisition, and construction remains unfinished.- Now officials say that the project has not complied with legally mandated environmental checks.

  • ‘Stampede’ of legislation threatens accelerated destruction of the Amazon
    on July 26, 2021

    - A series of bills being deliberated in Brazil threatens to legalize illegally occupied land, change demarcation rules for Indigenous reserves and open them up to mining, and ease concessions inside public forests.- One of the bills targets the Amazonian state of Acre, proposing a reduction of the important Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve and a downgrade in the protected status of Serra do Divisor National Park.- In another Amazonian state, Rondônia, a state bill was passed this year that significantly shrank the Jaci-Paraná Extractive Reserve and the Guajará-Mirim State Park, setting a worrying precedent, activists say.- They warn this wave of legislation is part of the current administration’s bid to “run the cattle” through environmental protections for the benefit of commercial sectors such as agribusiness and mining.

  • Illegal deforestation intensifies along Brazilian highway as agribusiness hopes swell
    on July 23, 2021

    - Highway BR-319 runs some 885 km (550 mi) from Rondonia’s capital of Porto Velho to Manaus, the Amazon’s largest city.- Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to pave the portion of BR-319 that runs through the southern part of the state of Amazonas to ease the transportation of timber — and, eventually, soy — out of the remote, densely forested region.- Environmentalists and researchers say this has encouraged outsiders to illegally invade and deforest large areas of intact forest.- Satellite data and imagery shows deforestation has increased along the southern portion of the road in 2021, including in and near protected areas.

  • Global restoration now has an online meeting point
    on July 23, 2021

    - Restor is a map-based, open-source platform created so that people can better plan, manage and monitor restoration projects. The locations of more than 50,000 restoration and conservation initiatives are now registered on the platform.- On the platform, Restor users can view high-resolution satellite imagery of places around the globe to learn about their potential for restoration or conservation. It also allows users to see what tree species are native to a particular location.- Currently, Restor is collecting data from restoration projects around the world. Anyone with a project can apply for access to the site where they are able to enter data about their project and ecosystem.- Restor CEO Clara Rowe says they hope to “enable and accelerate ecological restoration … around the globe by making it easy for anyone, anywhere to engage.”

  • Lessons from the 2021 Amazon flood (commentary)
    on July 23, 2021

    - In June 2021, the annual flood season in the western and central Amazon reached record levels, and dramatic scenes of inundated homes, crops and city streets captured attention beyond Amazonia. This event provides lessons that must be learned.- The high flood waters are explained by climatological forces that are expected to strengthen with projected global warming. Damaging floods represent just one of the predicted impacts in Amazônia under a warming climate.- The administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro must change its current denialist positions on global warming and its policies that encourage deforestation. The Amazon forest must be maintained for many reasons in addition to its role in avoiding climate change.- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.